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By JV Valderama
Strengthening the upper body is just as important for a stronger and toned body. The shoulders, back, and chest makes up your upper body, which is responsible for most of the activities you perform every day. Additionally, it plays a vital role in having a proper posture. Lack of upper body strength may result in back pains and postural imbalance.
If you’re reading this now is the best time to include upper-body exercises in your workout routine. Strengthening the major muscles in your body, specifically, the back and shoulder muscles can correct your posture and relieve lower back pain.
Main Benefits of Increased Upper-Body Strength
Overhead presses, pull-ups and chin-ups, weight lifting, and plank walkouts are different forms of upper-body exercises that you can do anywhere to better support your body weight, protect your back, and improve your posture. When you engage in upper-body workouts, you enjoy these benefits:
• Upper-body strength training makes doing your tasks or chores easier and more efficient.
It will be much simpler to pick things up, set them down, or push and pull different objects. Furthermore, you prevent potential injuries that come with lifting heavy objects.
• You help prevent body imbalances that mostly occur due to a lack of movement or an inactive lifestyle.
The posterior pelvic tilt, for example, is a body imbalance wherein your back appears very flat and tucked inwards. It puts your back under a lot of stress, leading to back pain. It also affects your spine which drives your balance off, making you prone to injuries.
Building your back and shoulder muscle mass to support your upper body is the best trick to developing good posture, balance, and coordination.
• A healthy upper body not only makes you look good with your well-defined arms and shoulders, but it also feels good.
Achieving a new fitness goal by either upping your sets and reps or just by starting an upper-body exercise is both beneficial and satisfying. Most of all, seeing improvement not only in your body but also in your everyday life is extremely rewarding.
Nothing feels better than setting yourself up for success.
Strength Training: Upper-Body Workouts
Adding upper-body strength work to your exercise or training is a good way to boost your performance and overall fitness. But how often should you do your upper-body workouts?
According to Albert Matheny, American Strength Coach and Registered Dietitian, the general rule is to engage in strength training exercises, including upper-body workouts, 3 days a week to fully experience its benefits. This amount of time is enough for strength-building while allowing your muscle tissue to recover.
If you’re too busy, however, Noam Tamir, CEO of New York-based personal training studio TS Fitness, says that 1 to 2 days of strength training also offers remarkable results. When you’re not lifting weights, cardio exercises such as running or using stationary exercise bikes at home or in the gym can also help work your upper body.
Upper-Body Workouts at Home
If you’re a beginner or someone who cannot go to the gym every day due to your busy schedule, setting up a home gym may be your best bet to ensure that you consistently engage your upper body.
Not only do home gyms offer efficiency by saving you time and effort, but they also let you make your own rules! You have to worry no more about blasting your favourite workout playlist out loud. You have all the time and space to increase and expand your workout program. Getting bigger and stronger is much easier with a gym at home.
Exercise Physiologist Katie Lawton of Cleveland Clinic said that the first step to setting up a home gym is determining what kind of exercises you want to do and how frequently you plan to do them. Ask yourself this question: Do I want to practise yoga regularly or should I do HIIT workouts?
Knowing your needs and preferences will help you decide which tools and equipment to buy, saving you time and money. Having a functional home gym also means providing the most suitable space to work out. You can allot a special indoor gym area or convert an unused room or garage. Protect your floors and joints by using mats or foam tiles.
Gym equipment can cost a lot. As such, start with a few essential pieces. Stick to your goals, and after a while, if you think you need to upgrade and lift heavier weights, then that’s the only time to add to your equipment.
To kick off your fitness journey and workout routine, here are some pieces of equipment vital to your upper-body exercises:
- Weight plates
- Olympic barbell
- Flat bench
- Pull-up bar
- Exercise mat
- Resistance band
- Jump rope
At-Home Upper-Body Exercises
Wake those muscles up and start incorporating upper-body exercises into your routine. Here are five simple upper-body workouts you can do at home. As a bonus, they also work without using any gym equipment!
- For your starting position, stand facing a chair or a dining table.
- Grip your hands on the chair’s edge, slightly wider than your shoulder’s width. Keep your arms straight while keeping them unlocked to achieve proper form.
- Slowly bend your elbows and lower your chest to the edge of the chair. Inhale as you push down.
- Extend your arms as you push your body away from the chair. As you push up, exhale.
- Continue doing slow, steady reps to avoid the risk of injury.
This is also great for beginners and people recovering from injuries. Incline push-ups are a good pre-exercise warm-up routine or a post-workout stretch.
- You can use two chairs or counters to support the weight of your body.
- Place each of your hands on each chair and bend your arms while leaning forward to lower your body.
- Lower down until your shoulders reach elbow level.
- Extend your arms to lift your body.
- Make sure to lock your elbows when you reach the top. Repeat the movement.
This solid exercise highly targets your triceps–a muscle that makes up 60% of your upper arms.
Handstand Wall Walk
- Assume a crawling position with both of your hands on the floor.
- Plant both of your feet up against a wall.
- Stabilise your handstand position and walk down the wall until you reach the bottom.
Aside from targeting the upper body muscles, handstand wall walk also improves core strength. This activity corrects posterior pelvic tilt by giving you a straight posture.
- Begin in a plank position and lock your elbows and shoulders.
- Point your fingers outward.
- Incline your wrist forward.
- Protract your shoulder blades and keep them in a depressed position by pulling down your shoulders and back.
- Continue leaning forward until your shoulders exceed the position of your hands.
You may place your feet on a skateboard or on a stool with wheels to level up this exercise. This will allow you to move freely and makes your body lean even more.
(Image Source: Men’s Health)
- Start in a plank position on the ground.
- Place your hands and toes firmly on the floor while keeping your core tight.
- Lift your hips and back to form an inverted “V” shape.
- Lower down your entire upper body toward the ground.
- Carefully push back up until you’re back in the inverted “V” position and hold for a minute.
Pike push-up engages the deltoid muscles like the rear deltoids, anterior deltoids, and triceps. You can start from 5-8 reps and, to achieve progressive overload, you can increase to 8-12 reps.
If this exercise is a breeze for you, reap its fullest potential and start working with this pike push-up variation:
- Grab a sturdy chair or go to an elevated platform and step both feet onto it.
- Repeat the same steps above.
- You may begin low and slow to the floor.
- As you eventually get comfortable, go higher and increase your count.
ShaNay Norvell, a Certified Personal Trainer in Atlanta, recommends starting slow before increasing the height and reps until you develop adequate upper-body strength.
Who wouldn't want to have greater upper-body power and stamina? The ideal training plan for increasing muscle growth involves the upper body. Get off the sofa and enhance your regular activities while improving the state of your body.
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